My middle school would like to host a science night for the district. Do you have any ideas? —S., Illinois
Concentrate on activities that are safe. inexpensive, quick to set up and take down, and easy to clean up. Your students can learn a lot as the guides and demonstrators at the activities, while relieving you and your colleagues of some of the burden. Create passports that get stamped at different stations to promote participation.
Many quick engineering activities use only straws and tape: towers, cantilevers, bridges, and so on.
Astronomy is always a big hit (if the weather cooperates). Contact the local amateur astronomical society for help and equipment. Display images of the moon, planets, star clusters, and constellations students take with night photography apps on cell phones.
A “Science Mystery Show” in which students demonstrate and explain a variety of discrepant events will be a hit. There are many ideas for these on the web.
Hunting for pond micro- and macro-organisms under microscopes is another captivating activity. Students could create “wanted” posters that will describe certain species to find. The “reward” could correlate with the rarity or difficulty of finding that organism.
Extracting DNA from strawberries or other fruit can be really fun, inexpensive, and easy. Do a quick search of NSTA’s Learning Center or the web to find out how.
Messy but always fun is to make ooblek, slime, or gak as a chemistry activity. There are tons of recipes and different formulations online.
Most of all, HAVE FUN!
Hope this helps!
Photo credit: National Science Foundation [Public Domain}